Coronavirus: Chaos for holidaymakers as flights and holidays axed over COVID-19 fears

British holidaymakers’ travel plans have been thrown into disarray after dozens of flights and holidays were cancelled over coronavirus fears.

Jet2 planes heading to Spain turned back mid-flight on Saturday morning after the low-cost airline announced the cancellation of flights to the country, as well as the Balearic and the Canary Islands.

Meanwhile, travel company TUI cancelled holidays to a raft of popular destinations including Spain, Cyprus, Malta, Tunisia, Italy and Jamaica.

The company said it would offer customers alternative holiday options or a full-refund.

All Ryanair Group flights – including Buzz and Lauda – to and from Poland have been cancelled from midnight on Saturday to midnight on 31 March.

It came as Donald Trump confirmed the UK and Ireland are to be added to America’s European travel ban over the coronavirus pandemic.

The new restrictions will begin at midnight on Monday, eastern standard time (0400 GMT).

Spain and Poland have introduced stringent measures to control the spread of coronavirus.

A two-week state of emergency is in place in Spain, where 190 have died and more than 5,700 diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Spanish government is set to tell all citizens to stay home except to buy food or medicines, go to hospital, go to work or for other emergencies, according to a draft decree seen by the Reuters news agency.

Poland is closing its borders and denying all foreigners entry unless they live in Poland or have personal ties there. Non-citizens allowed in will be quarantined for 14 days.

Currently, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising against all but essential travel to La Rioja and the municipalities of La Bastida, Vitoria and Miranda de Ebro.

It is also advising against all but essential travel to all of Poland.

TUI said it had cancelled holidays in Spain which are due to travel between 14 and 16 March and Jamaica between 14 and 28 March.

Holidays in Cyprus departing up to and including 24 March have also been axed, as well as breaks in Malta and Tunisia up to and including 22 March, the company said.

Customers with holidays booked in Italy up to 3 April will be contacted to discuss whether to amend their booking or have a full refund, it added.

After cancelling flights to Spain, Jet2 said in a statement: “We know local measures will have a significant impact on our customers’ holidays, which is why we have taken this decision.

“We are contacting our customers who are currently in these destinations, and who are due to travel, to advise them of their options, so we urge customers not to call us.

“This is a fast-moving and complex situation and we are reviewing our programme as a matter of urgency, so that we can fly customers back to the UK.

“The health and safety of our customers is our number one priority, and we would like to thank our customers for their understanding.”

Jet2 had already cancelled all flights to Italy as well as a host of other destinations, including the Czech Republic, Austria, Malta and Cyprus.

Ryanair said it had cancelled flights “in response to the decision of the Polish government to ‘lock down’ the entire country”.

A spokesman added: “We are contacting all affected customers by email to advise them of their options and we urge customers not to call us.

“This is a fast-moving and complex situation and the safety and well-being of our people and customers is our main priority.

“We will continue to comply fully with all WHO and EASA guidelines and we will follow any travel restrictions that are imposed.”

Earlier, LOT Polish Airlines, which flies to UK airports including Heathrow, Edinburgh and Nottingham, suspended all connections from both Poland and Hungary for a period of 10 days from 15 March.

Sky News will broadcast a special coronavirus programme at 6.30pm tonight, with experts answering your questions #AskSkyNews

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